12 STEPS TO GROWING HEALTHY TOMATOES

1) There are two broad categories of tomato plant, those that form a flower cluster at a terminal point and those that continue to grow taller indefinitely. The latter are called indeterminate and they tend to mature very late in the season. That makes them subject to possible frost damage.

2) Tomatoes love sun. They like very hot, dry soil and air. When they get it they grow up big and plump with healthy leaves. But cold temperatures will cause them to die rapidly.

3) Dealing with that potential problem involves employing a number of techniques. Some growers will utilize a small, mobile greenhouse to cover the tomato when frost is likely. Others simply plant and harvest early enough that the problem never occurs. Which you employ and when depends on your specific growing season – when it begins and ends.

Factoid 1: According to Archeological finds, the tomato is thought to have originated in the lower Andes in an area covering parts of what are today Ecuador, Bolivia And Peru. The Peruvians, so apt at developing other foods, do not seem to have cultivated it.

4) The opposite problem can occur, however with other varieties – sun burning. These so-called first early varieties are well suited to northern climates since they are often ready to harvest in 60 days or less. The cooler climates are perfect for these medium sized species.

5) Beyond weather problems, tomatoes are at risk for a number of common diseases, pests and soil problems.

6) Blossom end rot, caused by a calcium deficiency, appears as a large brown spot at the bottom of the tomato. It will often produce a soft spot and appear as the tomato ripens. One underlying cause is an uneven watering practice. Water helps transport calcium into the plant.

Factoid 2: In America, as elsewhere, the tomato was principally grown in home gardens long before it was cultivated commercially, chiefly because of its perish ability.

7) The only solution is to pick the affected tomatoes off to give the others the best chance to thrive. But preventative methods are preferable. Water deeply to encourage deep root growth. Mulch around the plants to help the topsoil retain moisture during dry spells. Keep the pH around 6.5.

8) Tomato hornworms are a common scourge of all tomato growers. These four-inch larvae tend to blend into the green stems of the tomato plant. But they can be seen by the aid of the long white stripes down their sides. They have a large false eyespot, a black spot, on the tail.

9) The adults are large brown moths that may achieve wingspans of up to five inches. Marigolds, basil and other trap crops can help keep them off the tomato plants where they lay their eggs that develop into larvae.

Factoid 3: Botanically, the tomato is a fruit, legally, it is a vegetable ~~ in the United States at least, by decree of the Supreme Court which in 1893 ruled that because it was used like a vegetable it must be considered as one for the purposes of trade.

10) Aphids are another common problem for tomatoes, as they are with many plants. They are tiny (1/10 inch across), soft-bodied bugs that appear yellowish, green or white. They can be temporarily washed off with a hose but will return.

11) Planting companion crops such as petunias, anise or coriander can help control them. But there are also many insecticide soaps that eliminate the problem without harming the tomatoes or you when you eat them.

Factoid 4: It is the most popular of all vegetables for home gardeners and the third most popular for consumers of canned vegetables after sweet corn and green beans.

12) Though they require a bit of care, tomatoes are regarded as well worth the effort by most vegetable gardeners. After all, the whole purpose is to have tasty, healthy vegetables to eat. Happy growing and eating.

Posted in Benefits of the gardening.

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